“Before I came to Goodwill, I hadn’t been on a good path and I hadn’t held a job. I got out of prison and didn’t have a plan,” Julian said.
Julian was referred to Goodwill in January by his parole officer. “My parole officer told me about IGNITE and encouraged me to see Joe (Gordon),” Julian said. “I wasn’t interested in any ‘program’ but she convinced me to go check it out. I met with Joe and he made me feel like I would be part of a family. I started the next week and never looked back.”
On January 10, 2022, Julian enrolled in the program. LifeLaunch: IGNITE is a Goodwill Industries International (GII) program funded through the Department of Labor. The program is for justice involved youth between the ages of 18 – 24 and includes ten-weeks of manufacturing and material handling skills training in Goodwill Industries of West Michigan’s Industrial Services Center, coupled with a robust classroom curriculum instruction through a partnership with Muskegon Community College. Each program participant is coached throughout the duration of the program by a Goodwill career coach who meets with each participant multiple times per week to provide feedback on their work performance and to ensure plan adherence based on goals set by the participant. Additionally, once the participant completes programming, the career coach continues the relationship to secure and retain employment.
IGNITE Career Coach Joe Gordon, saw something special about Julian from the beginning. “Julian was motivated to make a change. He came in focused and hit the ground running. It was easy to help a guy like Julian,” Joe said.
After learning about different types of jobs through the IGNITE program, and nearing completion of his ten-week manufacturing/material handling work experience training, Julian showed a particular interest in materials handling and became curious about Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) certification. To satisfy his curiosity, Joe arranged a job shadow experience for Julian with Goodwill Transportation Manager Sterling Jobin. “I knew after spending the day with Sterling that it was the career for me,” Julian said. In March, Julian began a six-week CDL certification through a partnership with Michigan Works. Shortly following Julian’s successful completion of the CDL certification, Jobin happily offered him the position of Truck Driver II. Jobin smiles when he talks about Julian, “He has been a great addition to the transportation team. We are just so happy to have him here.”
Julian says of his new full-time driving job, “I like working at Goodwill. I thought I wanted something bigger, where I was on the road driving big trucks more often, but I’m so glad I got to stay here at Goodwill. There are good vibes here,” says Julian. “It really is like a family.”
“IGNITE helped me learn how to prepare for a job. They exposed me to different work experiences like forklift driving and welding, and they helped me see there was more out there,” Julian said. They supported me with gas cards to get to work and some vouchers to get some clothes.” When asked if Julian has any advice for someone else who was struggling to find or keep work, he said, “You have to find that motivation inside yourself. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom to figure it out, but you’ve got to want to help yourself.”
The LifeLaunch: IGNITE is one of the Justice-Involved Programs that helps 18-to-24-years-old who have been involved in the justice system and want a fresh start. The ten-week program offers vocational career tracks in CDL, computer networking, CNA, manufacturing, materials handling, machine operation, mechatronics, or welding with job placement assistance in the Muskegon area.
Story sourced from Goodwill Industries of West Michigan’s blog.
Contact your local Goodwill to learn more about similar programs available in your area.